International Chamber of Russian Modernism

• Donkey’s Tail 1912
• Target, 1913
• Exhibition of Original Icons and Lubki, 1913
• No. 4. 1914




11 / 24 March – 8 / 21 April
Stroganov School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture,
Miasnitskaya St., Moscow

Brief History of Donkey’s Tail, 1912

Mikhail Larionov, Natalia Goncharova and Aristarkh Lentulov had organised the exhibiting group, Knave of Diamonds (or Jack of Diamonds) in Moscow in December 1910. It was formally founded in October 1911 as the Knave of Diamonds Society of Artists by P. Konchalovsky, Ilia Mashkov, Vasily Rozhdestvensky, and Alexander Kuprin. In the Statutes it was written that: "The aim of the Knave of Diamonds Society of Artists is to spread modern concepts on questions of the fine arts. The area of activities is the city of Moscow.". The registered address was the studio shared by Konchalovsky and Mashkov and it held its first exhibition between 10 December 1910 and 16 January 1911.

From the outset there were disputes with Larionov and Goncharova, who in April 1911 had created the group of Neo-Primitivist painters, Donkey's Tail, which included Mikhail Le Dantiu, Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Shevchenko, Kiril Zdanevich, and Maurice Fabbri. Their aim was a modern painting that was truly Russian, not one that relied on the European styles of Cézannism, Fauvism, Orphism and Cubism which characterised the work of the Knave of Diamonds painters. A definitive split between the two groups was declared in the autumn of 1911, although artists from both groups continued to exhibit together in World of Art exhibitions.
“Towards the end of 1911 the artistic atmosphere in Moscow became tense. The press reported that Larionov had acrimoniously broken with the Knave of Diamonds and formed a rival group called the Donkey’s Tail / Osliny khvost. The storm broke when Larionov and Goncharova refused to participate in the second Knave of Diamonds exhibition which was to open on 25 January 1912. This exhibition was organised by Lentulov, Mashkov, Konchalovsky, Falk and Kuprin who remained at the core of the Knave of Diamonds for a number of years. Kandinsky, Kirchner, Marc and Münter, however, were also taking part as were French artists including Gleizes, Van Dongen, Léger, Delaunay, Matisse, Picasso and Le Fauconnier.

“Larionov and Goncharova had now distanced themselves from the pervasive influence of Western modernism on the grounds that Russian art proceeded from a different cultural basis. They believed that a modern Russian art should address the question of national artistic traditions and therefore they disassociated themselves from the Knave of Diamonds on the grounds that Burliuk was a “decadent Munich follower” while the others, known as Cézanne-ists, were conservative and eclectic. Larionov and Goncharova called for an independent Russian school and although their stance was largely polemical, it was nonetheless historic in that they were the first to insist that Russian art was essentially different from that of Western European countries and that its development should be informed by reference to indigenous cultural conventions.

“The origins of Larionov’s new group actually dated back to April 1911 when the press first reported that artists from the Moscow Salon society had decided to organise a separate exhibition under the name of the Donkey’s Tail. Initially the group must have included participants in the Moscow Salon exhibition such as Larionov, Goncharova, Malevich and Shevchenko. The poet, Sergei Bobrov, had joined the Donkey’s Tail by the end of the year, and Viktor Bart, Morgunov, Rogovin, and Skuie later resigned from the Knave of Diamonds to join the group. The Donkey’s Tail also included Ivan Larionov, the artist and critic Vladimir Markov, and several students from the Moscow School of Painting and the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg such as Mikhail Le Dantiu, Vladimir Tatlin, and Kiril Zdanevich.

“The Donkey’s Tail first exhibited with the Union of Youth in St. Petersburg during January-February 1912, though the two exhibitions remained distinct and separate catalogues were published for each. Afterwards, they opened their own exhibition in Moscow, following the closure the of second Knave of Diamonds show. In addition, Larionov “poached” Artur Fon Vizen from the Knave of Diamonds by hanging his paintings, without the artist’s knowledge, in the exhibition. Naturally, Fon Vizen vehemently disassociated himself from this forced cooption into the Donkey’s Tail.

“A showdown between the Donkey’s Tail and the Knave of Diamonds was inevitable and it took place during the Knave of Diamonds conference held in the Museum of the Polytechnic School of Moscow on 12 February.... [See, Knave of Diamonds, 1913, forthcoming]

“The name, “The Donkey’s Tail”, derived from a famous Parisian hoax in which the art critic, Roland Dorgelès and Fréderic Gérard, proprietor of the Montmartre café, Le Lapin Agile, had painted a lurid red and blue seascape by tying a paintbrush to a donkey’s tail. The work was exhibited as Sunset Over the Adriatic under the name of Joachim Raphale Baronali at the Salon des Indépendants of 1905 apparently without comment. In 1910, Ilia Repin recounted the incident of the donkey’s tail in his review of Izdebsky’s International Exhibition and used the term as a critical epithet for the modernist work on show. Shortly afterwards, the Russian press satirized the Knave of Diamonds exhibition by publishing a cartoon of a donkey painting with its tail, with the cynical caption: “Off home already after looking round just one hall. Don’t be shy. Get your sixty kopeks worth and next year come again. Then we will change the name and under the sign of ‘the Donkey’s Tail’ we will show you the way we paint our pictures.” In adopting this name for his group, Larionov beat the critics with their own stick.”

Anthony Parton, Mikhail Larionov and the Russian Avant-Garde. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993, 38-40.

At the first exhibition of the Donkey’s Tail it was Goncharova’s work that dominated the show and it was her work that drew the venom of the critics. Whilst all the artists in the exhibition were derided for their apparent inability to paint, it was Goncharova who was consistently pilloried, and the more so because she was a woman. To add insult to injury, the opening of the exhibition coincided with Goncharova’s trial for indecency and several members of the group were called to offer testimony on her behalf. This only compounded the interest of the media and the public in the activities of the young avant-garde and of Goncharova in particular. She increasingly found herself the topic of artistic debate, of general discussion and of popular rumour. For the national press of the day she was “the worst of the Knaves” and, because she was a woman, they christened her Bobnovaia dama or the Queen of Diamonds.

Anthony Parton, Goncharova. Tha Art and Design of Natalia Goncharova, Suffolk: Antique Collectors’ Club, 2010, 54.

(The dates are old style, according to the Gregorian calendar, followed by new style after the slash.)



1. Landscape

2. Four Instructive pictures on words taken from the book, “Montaigne’s Experiences” 3. From Ancient Life (Sketch) 4. The same in small format 5. Glass Study 6. Drawing on Words of Montaigne 7. Same
8. Illustration for Pushkin’s Poem, “Cherries” 9. Illustrations for Pushkin’s Poem “Again” – “I visited that corner of the earth” 10. – “I visited that corner of the Leda” 11. Illustration to Sologub’s Poem, “Not Reflecting in the Mirror” 12. Allegory 13. Cover for the magazine, “Novyi Put” / “New Path” 14. Danseuse 15. Danseuse 16. Dancing Woman 17. Episode from Battle 18. Episode 19. Paper 20. Soldier 21. Two Hunters and a Building 22. *** 23. *** 24. ***

26. Men Bathing 27. Nature morte (Yellow Flowers) 28. Spring Evening in the City 29. Men Bathing (Evening) 30. Haymaking 31. Winter 32. Woman with Monkey 33. Nature Morte 34. Vintage
35. Landscape (Sunset) 36. Winter Landscape (Ice Breakers) 37. Study 38. Woman with a Basket on her Head (Venetian Style) 39. Study of a Woman 40. Study of a Cat 41. Parrots
Artistic Possibilities of a Peacock 42. Peacock (Chinese Style) 43. Peacock in the Wind (Futurist Style) 44. Peacock in the Bright Sun (Egyptian Style) 45. White Peacock (Cubist Style) 46. Spring Peacock (Russian Embroidery Style)
47. Sketch for a Religious Composition (Byzantine Style) 48. Archbishop (Sketch) 49. Flock (Russian Lubke Style) 50. Spring 51. Bathing 52. Peonies 53. Boy and Dog 54. Wood Cutters
55. Religious Composition (Triptych)
56. Winter Landscape (Ice Breakers) 57. Storm 58. Washwomen 59. Khorovod 60. Religious Composition 61. Portrait of M. F. Larionov and his Platoon Commander 62. Female Model
63. Female Model 64. Portrait 65. Woman with Fruit on her Head 66. In Church 67. Street Study 68. Peasants Gathering Apples 69. Mower 70. Harvest 71. Mower (Original Sketch) 72. Smoker (Tray Painting Style) 73. Autumn Study (Spontaneous Perception) 74. Bathing Boys (Sketch – Spontaneous Perception) 75. Street Traffic 76. Spontaneous Perception 77. Hop Harvest – Diptych (Original Sketch 77a. Bathing Horses 77b. Raft

78. Harbour 79. City 80-81. Studies

82. Portrait 83. Portrait 84. Portrait 85. Landscape 86. Landscape 87-93. Pastels 94-97. Drawings

98. Morning (Motif from Army Life) 99. Study for a Portrait of V. E. T. 100. Study of a Woman 101. Fight in a Tavern (Sketch) 102. Study (Man in a Cap) 103. Nature Morte (Boxes) 104. Night Landscape
105. Turk (From a Journey to Turkey that Never took Place) 106. Soldiers (Sketch) 107. Resting Soldier 108. Dancing Soldier 109. Soldier’s Head 110. Bread Baker 111. Study of a Boy’s Head 112. Canteen keeper Sonya 113. Study Near Camp 114. Cossack 115. Target Practice 116. Nature Morte – Bread (Original Study) 117. Study of a Man Reading a Paper 118. Dancing Soldiers 119. Photographic Study from Nature of a City Street 120. Circus Danseuse Before the Exit 121. Setting the Hair Before Going on Stage 122. Momentary Photograph 123. Scene – (Cinematographer) 124. Photographic Study of Melting Snow in Spring 125. Trooping the Colours 126-133. Drawings 134. Self Portrait 135. Waitress 136. Café 137. Mistress and Maid (From a Journey to Turkey that Never took Place) 138. Drawing 139. Morning in the Barracks 140. Woman in a Blue Corset (Newspaper Advertisement)

141. Hunter 142. Girl 143. Woman 144. Reapers 145. Landscape 146. Woman’s Figure 147. Workers
148. Self Portrait

149. Burial of a Peasant 150. Rye Harvest 151. Peasant Women in Church (Sketch for a Picture)
152. Portrait 153. Man with a Sack 154. Gardener 155. Landscape 156. Work at a Mill 157. Corn Remover in the Baths 158. Sower 159. Peasant Girls 160. Washer Woman
161-162. Provincial Landscapes
163. Working on Wigs 164. Floor Polishers 165. Landscape 166. On the Boulevard 167. Argentine Polka 168. Woman Sitting 169-170. Heads of Peasants 171-172. •••

173. In the Garden 173. Spiritual Point of View 175. Dissonance

176. Drinking Tea 177. Winter 178. Nature Morte 179. Flowers 180. Butchers 181. Landscape
182. Landscape 183. Window 184. Landscape 185. Winter Landscape 186. In the Restaurant
187. Landscape 188. Butcher Shop 189. Butcher Shop 190. In the Tea Shop 191. At Table 192. Dance 193. Before the Storm 194. Landscape 195. In the Tea Shop

196. Religious Composition 197. Isidia 198. Peasants 199. Teatime 200. Suicide 201. Isida (Drawing)
202. Illustration for the Schildbürger 203. Young Bourgeois Girl at the Photographer 204. Clowns
205. Satire on Paintings and Reality 206. Clowns 207. Sketches for Popular Theatre

208. Triptych 209. Turks in a Boat 210. Street in Turkey 211. Street in Turkey 212-213. Porters
214. The Mole 215. Constantinople 216. Horses 217. Drawing

218. Family Portrait of the Hairdresser Georgy Tchulkov 219. Portrait of a Woman

220-243. Costumes for the Production of Tsar Maksemian (Prop. of A. I. Zheverzhiev)
244. In the Garden 245. Sketch 246. Sketch 247. In Turkestan 248. Port Bazaar 249. Watercolour
250. Shop 251. In Port 252. Watercolour 253. Rest 254. Fish Vendor 255. Fish Vendor 256. Self Portrait
257. Sailor 258. Near Alexandria 259-261. Drawings and Watercolours 265. Peaches (Study 1909)
266. Garden (Study 1909) 267. Carnations (Study 1909) 268. Cloth Merchant 260 India ink drawing
270. At the Opening of Navigation

271-285. ***

286. Death

287. Women Bathers 289-290. Landscape. Moscow Province 291. Self Portrait 292. Factory
293. Bathhouse 294. Fruit Shop 295. Bricklayer 296. Bathing 297. At Table 298. Sketch 299. Bathers
300. Camp (Morning) 301. Seated Man 302. Tea Shop 303. Carousel 304. Soldiers (Washing)
305. Bathing (Watercolour) 306. Drawings

307. Study



There were numerous reviews of the Donkey’s Tail in the press.
This one by Maximilian Voloshin – Symbolist painter and poet who lived between Paris and Russia, 1901-1914, befriending the avant-garde in both places – is of particular interest.
“Moscow. Artistic Life. Donkey’s Tail”, in Chronicle of Russian Art, No. 7, April 1912, 105-109.
The Donkey’s Tail opened just days after the closing of the 2nd Knave of Diamonds.

“... the Dauber Rats made for the steep slopes, slipped into the priest’s vegetable garden, pulled off the tail of the abbot’s dog, hid it in the raspberry patch, lit a fire and played a game.....”

Everything took place just as it was described by Alexei Remizov [1887-1957] in the hallucinations of St. John’s Night. The “Dauber Rats” were in this case Larionov and Goncharova, the “priest’s dog’s tail” the Knave of Diamonds, only the dog’s tail was swapped for a “donkey’s tail” for the occasion. The “raspberry patch” was none other than the new exhibition room at the School of Painting and Sculpture where the donkey’s tail was set fire to on the day of the opening of the exhibition so that the fire brigade had to be called in.

It is difficult to understand what aesthetic disputes caused the break between the Knave of Diamonds and the Donkey’s Tail. Both exhibitions came essentially from the same artistic platform which was distinguished only by the personalities of the artists. As best as can be ascertained, the Dauber Rats tore off the priest’s dog’s tail for the same reason that Alcibiade had cut off the tail of a dog – that is, so that everyone would talk about it.

And, in fact, everyone is talking about the “Tail” and on the day of the opening the room was full to bursting. But the public was disappointed. It was expecting something even more striking and surprising and found that the “Donkey’s Tails” were not up to their name. The Burliuk brothers are more gifted at startling. From what is said, David Burliuk, hearing about Cubism for the first time, shrugged his shoulders and declared: “Anyway, no one paints more to the left than my brother and I”. And even if at the Knave of Diamonds debate Larionov proudly treated the Knaves as “epigons”, in the public’s opinion Burliuk remains all the same more to the left than Larionov. Moscovites found that the “Donkey’s Tail” did not measure up to its name and hold it against the artists for having been so boastful.

Only the censors took the exhibition really seriously and wanted to give all the symbolic weight to the meaning of the name of “Donkey’s Tail” by ordering the withdrawal of a series of canvases by Goncharova. It was considered inappropriate that these figures of saints in the style of popular imagery should appear under the label of a “Donkey’s Tail”, affirming by this fact that the exhibition would make “all the saints” “shudder”.

Honour was bestowed upon the organisers of the “Donkey’s Tail” by the censorship but in the matter of painting the exhibition did not, in fact, present anything that was shocking or amazing. The boldness of the “Donkey’s Tails” is mainly literary and can be appreciated more by leafing through their catalogue than by looking at their canvases.

In the catalogue you will find for example this kind of title: Artistic Possibilities of a Peacock (a peacock in Chinese style, Futurist style, Egyptian style, Cubist style, Byzantine style, Popular style, etc.), or The Smoker (in the style of painted trays), Bathing Boys (taken at a basic level), Portrait of Larionov and His Platoon Commander, Photographic Study of Melting Snow in Spring, Lady and her Servant (from a trip in Turkey that never took place), Woman in a Blue Corset (Newspaper Advertisement), Corn Remover in the Baths, Family Portrait of the Hairdresser Georgy Tchulkov, etc..

But all these alluring titles promise more than the works present. In fact, one sees a liberated painting, a painting of studies, indeed often talented, intentionally untidy, always arbitrary and meant to make fun of the spectator. Otherwise, one becomes aware that for the participants in the Donkey’s Tail there is a particular attraction for the soldier’s life and the barracks, for hairdressers, prostitutes and corn removers.

It would appear that they attempt to borrow the colouring from the very objects they depict. They paint hairdressers in pink rouge, with hair lacquer and brilliantine, with hair cream, the soldiers have been dipped in tar, coated with mud and Russian leather, and so on. They manage to reconstitute the very smell of the painted objects and to provoke nausea and disgust in the spectator. For those who are familiar with artists’ way of life, it is not difficult to discover the origin of this exhibition of the “Donkey’s Tail”. It is quite simply an exhibition of daubers. A dauber is the art school student who has already gone beyond the positive phase of his training in the science of painting and who has just entered the phase of rejecting what he has learned, a rejection that is translated by criticism and scorn for the teachers under whom they nevertheless continue to perfect themselves and this, by the way, with crude but amusing parodies, caricatures, a certain cynicism in colour and purely provocative ultrarealism. The dauber has already acquired mastery of all the knowledge that a teacher’s studio can give him and already he is contemptuous of it. But he is still not an artist because he has not yet left the studio of his teacher and has not yet gone beyond having an attitude towards life that is both joking and clowning. The state of the dauber is an indispensable state in the life of nearly every artist of talent.

These paintings exhibited here at the Donkey’s Tail can be seen in any large Parisian academy of painting and this, even to the walls – same soldiers, same hairdressers, same corn removers or feet, and same teachers painted with the same technical means and the same expressivity.

Even the name of “Donkey’s Tail” that the Moscow painters waved about like a banner is the reminder of a farce by Montmartre daubers who attracted a lot of attention in their time. They had exhibited a painting at the [Salon des] Indépendants done by a donkey’s tail that had been dipped in a pot of paint.

It is true that in Paris the daubers do not organise exhibitions and only to those who frequent the academies of painting know about these kinds of works. But in Russia, this class, or rather, this generation, of painters has just become aware of itself and there is nothing wrong in these artists wanting to affirm their right to life through their own exhibitions. If from this point of view one thinks of the exhibits in the style of the Donkey’s Tail then everything falls into place and these exhibitions take on an historical significance: if fact, today there is no leading school where painters who have not yet defined their vision of the world, like Larionov and Goncharova, are able to accomplish their training while emancipating themselves from the influence of their teachers. These young painters are left to themselves and for this reason they organise exhibitions in the form of “studio farces”. Keeping all this in mind, one finds many interesting and talented things in this exhibition of the “Donkey’s Tails”. The incredible productivity of Goncharova who shows more than fifty large-scale canvases which all seem to have been painted after the exhibition of the World of Art so that this productivity itself even takes on its meaning. The “tails” pursue no defined research plan, they experiment. And exhibit all their experiments. And among them there are very strong achievements in expressivity, as in this Ice Breakers or this Storm by Goncharova, as the Canteen Keeper Sonya or Soldiers Bathing by Larionov and nearly all the drawings by Bart.


6 / 23 March - 20 April 1913


Brief History of Target, 1913

In March 1913 two exhibitions organised by Larionov opened simultaneously on the premises of the Artistic Salon on Bolshaya Dmitrovka. The Exhibition of Original Icon Paintings and Lubki was an historical show of Russian folk art while the Target was an exhibition of contemporary works by Larionov and his group. The two exhibitions represented the culmination of the Neo-Primitive phase of Larionov’s career and initiated an aspiration towards Futurism which, during the course of the year gradually eclipsed his Neo-Primitive work.
The Exhibition of Original Icon Paintings and Lubki was conceived as a pendant to the Target exhibition which featured the latest work of the Donkey’s Tail group. Larionov had already unfurled the plans for this exhibition to the critic of Moskovskaya gazeta in January 1913. He explained: ‘This year we are calling ourselves ‘The Target’. Last year’s name, ‘The Donkey’s Tail’, was a challenge to the public. ‘The Target’ is also a challenge. The name symbolises the public’s attitude to us. The gibes and abuse of those who can’t keep up with us and can’t perceive the aims of art with our eyes fly into us like arrows into a target”.

The “bull’s eye” of the target comprised Larionov, Goncharova, and their Donkey’s Tail friends. Anisimov, Bart, Bobrov, Chagall, Ivan Larionov, Le Dantiu, Malevich, Rogovin, Sagaydachny, Shevchenko, Skuie, Yastrzhembsky and Kirill Znanevich. A group photograph pictures several of the core members with Larionov and Goncharova [see below]. The outer ring of the Target included a galaxy of minor talents. One of the aims of the exhibition, as stated in the catalogue, was to present the work of artists not associated with any definite trend or group, and so young students such as Vyacheslav Levkievsky and Sergei Romanovich as well as ordinary house paintrers with artistic aspirations were invited to participate. There were some significant omissions from the exhibition, however. Markov, Morgunov and Tatlin failed to participate, an indication that not everyone was willing to compromise himself or his art by a rigid adherence to the extreme path that Larionov was charting.

Larionov’s Introduction to the catalogue established thirteen principles which recur as leitmotifs in the subsequent writings of the Target group [below]. Here for the first time Larionov states their aspirations towards the east and national art forms, and protests against the west for reducing them to a vulgar caricature. He rejects the concept of personal artistic expression, considering the art work as an object in its own right, and demands that artists “know their craft”. This aspect of his aesthetic was derived from the popular and anonymous nature of folk art and its craft traditions. In line with his battle for the autonomy of painting, Larionov states that Rayism has freed painting to be self-sufficient and to exist according to its own laws, an idea expounded in the Rayist manifestos. In proclaiming his recognition of all styles, both past and present, and the right to combine them freely in his work, Larionov also laid the foundation of “everythingism”, a concept that reached fruition later in the year. Finally, Larionov asserts that these principles are not those of an established group, for artistic societies only lead to stagnation.

A majority of the works on show in the Target were executed in a Neo-Primitive style, the sources of which could be traced in the Exhibition of Original Icon Paintings and Lubki. To emphasise the correspondence between their own work and popular art forms, however, Larionov included in the Target a selection of “contemporary primitive” art. Works by Niko Pirosmanashvili (1862-1918), the Georgian “naive” painter, were exhibited here for the first time, alongside paintings of Russian life and landscape by Pavlyuchenko, a former miner, and pictures by Timofei Bogomazov, a sergeant-major and amateur painter whom Larionov had befriended in the army. Children’s drawings from the collections of Aleksandr Shevchenko and I. D. Vinogradov were exhibited as well as a score of anonymous drawings. Moreover, the catalogue cites works by the Second Corporation of Signboard Painters as being on show at the Target but a letter to the press denied any such participation.

Larionov’s own exhibits comprised recent Neo-Primitive and Rayist works which added to the somewhat motley aspect of the entire exhibition. The Seasons paintings were hung together as one large panel, Summer and Autumn and the bottom sections of Winter and Spring can be seen in the background of the group photograph (below). Other Neo-Primitive paintings on view included Jewish Venus, which can be identified in the photograph, as well as a sketch of a Moldavian Venus. Larionov’s first Rayist canvases including Glass, Rayist Sausage and Mackerel, and The Farm triptych, comprising Head of a Bull, Portrait of a Fool, and Cockerel and Hen were also exhibited.

To publicise the opening of the Target on 23 March, Larionov and Goncharova organised a public debate on contemporary art and theatre in the Polytechnical Museum. The evening opened with a lecture by Ilia Zdanevich who “gave an account of all the numerous manifestos of the Italian Futurists” and illustrated his talk with various antics. An image of the Venus de Milo was projected onto the screen while Zdanevich, in a kind of variety act, demonstrated that a shabby American boot was more beautiful. Larionov spoke about Rayism, following which Goncharova and Shevchenko gave an illustrated lecture on Russian national art, claiming that Russian art shared more with eastern than western art forms. In addition, three papers were devoted to the question of theatre, an issue of growing importance for the Russian avant-garde at this time. Bonch-Tomachevsky attacked European theatre, Larionov spoke on the role of painting in the theatre, and Arkhangelsky lectured on music and rhythm in the theatre of the future. Unfortunately, the evening concluded in an uproar and, under banner headlines, the following day’s newspaper described the event:

“Mr. Larionov, the presiding chairman, prevented one of the critics from speaking. The audience protested, surrounding the stage. Running up, Larionov threw an electric light bulb into the audience, then the water decanter. Someone from the presidium hurled a chair into the audience and made off. A student shouted that he had caught the man who threw the chair into the crowd and boxed his ears. A genuine fight began. The police were called into the hall and the meeting was closed.”

Inevitably, these events coloured the public’s attitude towards the Target and its protagonists. The press compared the Russian avant-garde with their Italian contemporaries and began to refer to the artists as futuristy (futurists). There were two reason for this. First, the chaos that invariably accompanied the Russian artistic debates recalled the controversies that had characterised the Italian Futurist cabaret evenings of 1910. And second, the Russian avant-garde were developing a real interest in Italian Futurism, as demonstrated by Zdanevich’s lecture on the evening of the Target. During 1913 and 1914 the term “futurist” was increasingly used by the press to refer to the exploits of the Russian avant-garde but it was also an appellation that both the Larionov and Burliuk groups used of themselves.
Although Jakov Tugendkhold found the opening evening of the Target to be “deplorable” and sections of the exhibition, such as Malevich’s contribution, to resemble “a chaos of steam boilers and cylinders”, his review was one of the most objective. He discussed Rayism at some length, presented its basic theory, compared it with Neo-Impressionism (as both movements, he said, attempted to reduce the natural world to its scientific fundaments), and described the Rayist paintings on exhibition at the Target in a favourable light. When discussing the Neo-Primitive aspirations of the group, Tugenhold almost became their apologist:

“... original icon paintings, eastern and Russian lubki, popular toys, and exhibits such as signboards and the works of house painters (those of Bogomazov are very interesting) bear witness to the collectives tastes of the Target, to their love of folklore. This is a highly gratifying circumstance, indicating that our young artists are not terribly satisfied with either false individual pride or the neat aestheticism of the Francophiles, but are seeking some objective ground on which they can stand in our cosmopolitan and anarchistic times. It’s very good that Larionov collects original icons and lubki with such love and tries to make artists out of mere commercial painters.... But when this talented artist himself, with the Moscovite directness of simplicity so characteristic of him, paints The Seasons of the Year not even in the style of shop signboards but actually in the style of graffiti on the fences, one wants to restrain him from such ‘popularism’ and to cry out: Is this not enough myth creation?”

Anthony Parton, Mikhail Larionov and the Russian Avant-Garde. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993, 56-58.

The Target exhibition fell into three sections: Rayist and Neo-Primitive work by Goncharova and Larionov, paintings in diverse styles by members of the Donkey’s Tail, and work by “contemporary primitives” including the Georgian signboard painter, Niko Pirosmanashvili and the amateur painters Timofei Bogomazov and Pavliuchenko. In addition, the Second Workshop of Signboard Painters was apparently invited to participate in the exhibition with six works for drapery shops, a hat shop and a delicatessen. Children’s art from the collections of Vinogradov and Shevchenko and drawings by unknown artists also formed an important aspect of the exhibition. The stylistic diversity which characterised the exhibition was quite intentional for the group did not wish to impose a fixed style of working upon its members but instead sought to promote a complete freedom of expression that would encourage creative practice and innovation.

Of the professional painters who participated in the show it was Goncharova who most profoundly reflected this eclectic stance. The majority of her exhibits were of recent date and they included Dancing Women, Bread Seller, two works from the Vintage series and three from the Jewish series. Alongside these she exhibited the Cubo-Futurist paintings City by Night, The Factory, Mirror, and seven Rayist works including Cats: Rayist Perception in Rose, Black and Yellow, Rayist Perception: Blue and Green, and one of her series of Rayist Lilies.

The evening preceding the opening of The Target was marked by a debate in the Polytechnical Museum. Here Shevchenko spoke in praise of eastern art forms whilst Ilia Zdanevich discussed the innovations of Italian Futurism and Larionov rounded the evening off with a lecture on Rayism. According to Utro Rossii, Ilia Zdanevich spoke, “very extensively about the theories of the Futurists. He began with compliments to the Moscow telephone and tramway, celebrated the automobile and the aeroplane, set forth in detail all the diverse manifestos of the Italian Futurists and expressed the view that a contemporary shoe was more beautiful than the Venus de Milo, in witness of which he projected an image of the Venus de Milo onto the screen whilst he placed a shoe on the rostrum.”

This caused uproar in the auditorium but they gradually settled down. At the end of the evening, however, when Larionov prevented one of the critics from speaking and when Goncharova told the audience that they were a flock of sheep there was a riot. The police were called, Larionov was arrested and the meeting was terminated.

This scandal was so significant that it was reported in the daily press and even hit the front page of the leading daily newspaper, Rech / Speech. The exhibition became tarred with the same brush as the debate and most of the critics proved hostile. Nakatov wrote: “Everything the Futurists do, everything that they write, that they say, and that they paint is founded on this basis: impudence”, whilst Rosstsii thought the exhibition was marked by the same “deliberate aesthetic mischief, intentional artistic uproar”, and “deliberate buffoonery” which had characterised their now famous debate. From this point on, despite their evident interest in the Russian folk tradition and their Neo-Primitive style, Goncharova and Larionov were consistently referred to in the press as Futurists (futuristy) since the popular imagination considered any form of anarchic behaviour to be characteristic of Italian Futurist culture.

A few critics, however, considered the exhibition on its own strengths. Tugendkhold, for example, praised the love of folklore demonstrated by the artists whose work was on display in The Target and read this as a sign that “our young artists are not terribly satisfied with either false or individual pride or the neat aestheticism of the Francophiles”, but afforded them “some objective ground on which they can stand in our cosmopolitan and anarchistic times”. Although Tugendkhold described Shevchenko as a gifted artist, Le-Dantiu as a beautiful colourist and Malevich as amusing, it was Goncharova who really captured his imagination. He praised the “truthfulness” of her Neo-Primitive style paintings and was one of the first to admire the formal characteristics of her abstract work, noting that “Goncharova possesses a painterly taste thanks to which even Futurist [e.g., The Factory] and Rayist [e.g., Lilies] paintings stir one’s interest as beautiful arabesques.”

Anthony Parton, Goncharova. Tha Art and Design of Natalia Goncharova, Suffolk: Antique Collectors’ Club, 2010, 90-91.



Mikhail Larionov, Introduction

“Target” is the latest exhibition in a cycle conceived in 1911 including the “Knave of Diamonds” (the first exhibition and not the association), “Donkey’s Tail”, and now “Target”. Under this name a group of painters is presented who are putting into practice the ideas that they hold at the present time. Up to now, exhibitions were organised periodically determined by an order that depended more on the calendar than on the needs of artists, on artistic works that accumulated in their studios or on the need to exhibit these works at a given time.

In order to distance themselves from this dependence, the group decided to organise the following exhibitions – based on the accumulation of artistic works – either several times a year or else, on the contrary, an exhibition of several years’ work. The forthcoming exhibitions will not have a name but will be numbered, beginning with the number 4.

The changes in the names from one exhibition to another are due to what each one brings as new artistic objectives, which was the initial aim.

One of the objectives of this exhibition is to show works by painters who do not belong to any definite trend and which together create an artistic work, without presenting their own personality.

The general principles that can be seen are:
1. Rejection of every presentation of the personality.
2. The work of art must be seen as such without taking account of its creator.
3. The copy is acknowledged as a work of art wholly in itself.
4. We recognise all the styles that existed before us and which have been created today such as Cubism, Futurism, Orphism. We declare that all combinations and mixtures of styles are of value.
We have created our own style, Rayism, whose objectives are spatial forms and making painting independent, governed only by its own laws.
5. We lean to the East and bring our attention to national art.
6. We protest against the servile subjection to the West which sends back eastern forms and our own in a trivial appearance, degrading everything it touches.
7. We do not ask for the attention of society, but we ask that it not request that of us.
8. We value more than anything the tension of the sensibility and its great vitality.
9. Above all one must know his craft.
10. Everything must be acknowledged as creatable.
11. Everything must be denied in order to deny oneself. This is more in our line.
12. We think that, the whole world can express itself in its wholeness in artistic forms – life, poetry, music, philosophy, etc.
13. We do not want to organise an artistic group because, up to now, such institutions have led to stagnation.

Participants in the exhibition: A. I. Abramov, Iu. I Anissimov, S. P. Bobrov, V. S. Bart, A. N. Beliaev, T. N. Bogomazov, Natalia Goncharova, K. M. Zdanevich, I. F. Larionov, Mikhail Larionov, M. V. Le Dantu, V. V. Levkievsky, M. Mikhailov. S. M. Romanovich. V. A. Obolensky, O. D. Oligina, E. I. Sagadatchny, I. A. Skuie, Niko Pirosmanashvili, T. E. Pavliuchenko, Maurice Fabbri, M. Chagall, A. V. Shevchenko, A. S. Yastrembsky, etc.

Left to right: M. Larionov, Maurice Fabbri, M. Le Dantiu, N. Goncharova, Vladimir Obolensky, S. Romanovich
Paintings left to right: M. Larionov, Jewish Venus, 1912, Panels of The Seasons: Autumn, Summer, 1912

Target Listing

1. Winter View 2. Ukrainian Farm 3. Young Girls

4. Curate’s Garden 5. Portrait of Dmitri Rem 6. Studies

7. Woman with Flowers 8. Woman with Flowers 9. Drummer 10. Drummer 11. Danseuse 12. Danseuse
13. Two Danseuses 14. Watercolour 15. Two Drawings 16. Several Compositions 17. Drawing
18. Drawing from a Nature Morte

19, 20. Fruit 21. Dog 22. Country Woman 23. Dog 24. Troika 25 Concierge 26. Goose 27. Lion
28. Indian

29. City at Night, 1912 30. Nature Morte, 1909 31. Wine Drinkers (Fragment), 1910 32. Grove, 1912
33. Sunflowers (Study), 1912 34. Jews, 1912 35. Sunflowers (Studies), 1912 36. Jews, 1911
37. Evening, 1911 38. Bread Vendor, 1911 39. Jewess, 1912 40. Evening (Rayism) Red and Blue, 1913 41. Mirror, 1912 42. Pressing Wine (Fragment) 43. Spring, 1912 44. Factory, 1912 45. Lilies (Rayism) Brown, Yellow and Green, 1913 46. Sketch (Rayism) Green and Yellow, 1913 47. Rayist Perception Blue and Green, 1913 48. Rayist Perception – Blue and Brown, 1913 49. Cat (Rayist) – Black with Yellow and Pink, 1913 50. Dancing Woman, 1911 51. Wood Cutter (Sketch), 1910 52. Drawings
53. ••• 1909 54. ••• 1909

55. Athlete 56. “Etoile” Tavern 57. Mountain Landscape 58. XX Century Miracle 59. In the Mountains
60. Street 61. Landscape 62. Landscape

63. Portrait of a Lady 64, 65. Untitled

The Seasons 66. Spring, 1912 67. Summer, 1912 68. Autumn, 1912 69. Winter, 1912
70. Study, 1912 71. Study, 1911 72. Study, 1911 73. Study, 1911 74. Head of a Bull 75. Rooster and Chicken (Prop of F. I. Murkhortov), 1911 76. Provincial Girl, 1911 77.Rayist Ham and Sausage, 1912
78. Portrait of a Fool, 1911 79. Glass (Study), 1912 80. Jewish Venus, 1912 81. Sketch of a Modavian Venus, 1912

82. In Happy Ossetia 83. Portrait 84. Portrait 85. Portrait 86. From the Caucasus 87. Georgian Dance
88. Sazandar

89. Untitled

90. Morning in the Village After the Storm 91. Village Street 92. Portrait of Ivan Vasilievich Kliunkov
93. Woman with Buckets 94. Dynamic Decomposition\ 95. Grinder (Flicker Principle) 96. Mower
97. Peasant Women in the Field (New Russian Style)

98. Watercolour 99. Signs

100-103. Untitled

104, 106. Untitled 106 Hairdresser, Caucasian Sign (Coll. M. V. Le Dantiu)

107. Portrait 108. Buildings 109. Forest Path 110, 111 Portraits 112. Study
113 Peasants Cutting Hemp, 114. Landscape

115. Girl with a Glass of Beer (Prop. of M V. Le Dantiu) 116. Portrait of I. M. Zdanevich (Prop. of I. M. Zdanevich) 117. Nature Morte (Prop. of I. M. Zdanevich) 117a. Star (Prop. of I. M. Zdanevich)

118. Old Man in a Grey Hat 119. Old Man in a Red Hat 120. Drawing on the Words of Montaigne
121, 122. Portraits of Women 123. Woman with Fruit 124. Watercolour

125 - 127. Untitled

128.Landcape 129. Landscape with Pink House 130. Woman with a Bucket 131. Tired Woman
132. Woman with a Guitar 133. Landscape with a Peddler 134. Girl with a Toy

135. Spring

136 Self Portrait (Caricature of M. F. Larioov) 137. (Caricature of the Paintings of “The Donkey’s Tail”) 140 Hay

141. Cellar 142. Lady on her Balcony 143 Salon 144. Path
145. The Red Cupboard 146. Interior 147. Landscape 148. Salon

149. Untitled

150. Two Ladies

151. Room

152. UntitledCHILDRENS’ DRAWINGS in the Collection of A. V. Shevchenko


CHILDRENS’ DRAWINGS in the Collection of N. D. Vinogradov

210-211. Portraits 212 Draper’s Signboard 213. The same
214. Hatmaker’s Signbpard 215. Signboard for a Bakery



Exhibition of Original Icon Paintings and Lubki

6-20 March 1913
Artistic Salon, Bolshaya Dmitrovka, Moscow


Brief History of the Exhibition

The Exhibition of Original Icon Paintings and Lubki (popular prints) displayed the variety of sources upon which Larionov’s Neo-Primitivism drew and included examples of popular art forms from Europe, Russia and Asia. The exhibition proved that his own work, as well as that of his group, was integrally related to and a natural product of the culture and creativity of the Russian people and its ancient Asian origins. Larionov himself contributed nearly one hundred thirty icons, over one hundred seventy lubki, eight-five Japanese woodcuts, nearly forty Chinese prints, seventeen Tatar prints, ten French Epinal prints, and one Buryat lubok. To give the exhibition a greater breadth he also displayed one hundred twenty ethnic art objects from the collection of N. V. Bogoyavlensky. A. I. Pryylovsky and N. G. Arafelov contributed a series of Persian prints and watercolours, and N. M. Bocharov and I. D. Vinogradov lent over fifty Chinese prints from their collections.

The exhibition catalogue is important as it contains two introductory essays by Larionov and Goncharova and lists many of the works exhibited. In his forward, Larionov discussed the origins of the Russian lubok while Goncharova, who had a greater affinity with the Asian works, wrote on the Hindu and Persian lubok. The critics thought it a splendid exhibition though too small to do just to the subject

Anthony Parton, Mikhail Larionov and the Russian Avant-Garde. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993, Chapter 5.

Mikhail Larionov, Introduction

The long-awaited boor came forth, and he was surprised because he chanced upon an epoch in which to discover oneself was considered a style. And he put forth a foot into the future yet took a step back. Like a scorching coal his tongue quivered trying to escape his parched throat. But he was forced to look lovingly, with the eyes of a brazen and cowardly slave, like a jackal, at his own face raging like a wild cat, and to die like Narcissus because that is how times were, and because the present took vengeance on the past. He who has given himself over to the hands of impoverished Time is doomed to perish at the hands of one of Time’s three hostile daughters.
(Rhada Bai, Chapter 7)
During the reign of the Assyrian emperor Hammurabi an exhibition of Russian, Chinese, Japanese, French, and other lubki of the 19th and 20th centuries was organised. They caused such a commotion of artistic feeling that time was killed by the supra-temporal and the supra-spatial. The feeling thus aroused reigned as an autonomous eternity.
(From an unpublished history of art)i

The painter Paul Cézanne lived during the reign of Rameses II. The creator of the scribe Theabad Randai lived, worked and died in Aix-en-Provence. An historical reference the accuracy of which – with surprising clarity – enhances the viewpoint of whoever is addressing a work of art directly. For the value and the goal of a work of art is not judged from the point of view of time. The definition and analysis of art are concerned only with art itself, and in all other cases by what is around it.
(Extract from an unpublished history of art, Ch. 3)

It is probably quite useless to know exactly when the lubok first appeared, and the Russian lubok in particular. I refer those who are interested to the work of Rovinsky where they will find the relevant information on this question. Futurism, which is the most astonishing, the most modern theory, can be transposed to Assyria or to Babylon, just as from Assyria, the cult of the goddess Astarte, the teachings of Zarathustra, can be transposed to what is called our time. The sensation of the new, with all its interest, will not disappear as a result since in their essence, in their development, their movement, epochs are different, and only unfortunate small minds study them from the point of view of time. These two epochs can exist happily as perfect equals in the new, in what we call the future. For in the very essence of the principles that they express, they are of equal value and time, that is the definition of laws that regulate what exists without its mediation, plays no role. He who says he is looking towards the future, referring to time, limits himself to the point of ceasing to exist and blinds himself forever.

He who sees in Futurism the theory of the future sees Impressionism as a first impression and Cubism as the simple movement of the plane becoming a geometric construction just as literally. Futurist theory can be examined as a supra-temporal movement.

Considering the lubok in the same way, we have the highest sensation of our artistic epoch and the strivings of our emotions acquire such a force that the artistic image, in the perception of art through the feelings, rise up with a burst equal to that which was present at the moment of its creation. For life and sensations aroused by a work of art are supra-temporal.

The moment of understanding a work of art and the result of this understanding have nothing to do with what we call time.

In their very essence, works of art differ according to the form in which they are perceived and by which they are recreated.

The lubok is varied: lubki printed from copper or wood plates, hand-coloured or stencil, color circumscribed by the outline or bleeding over the edges, which in fact is not the result of chance but is a fully intentional and established tradition, confirmed by the fact that even today the Old Believers continue to colour their lubki in this way. Because collectors of lubki admire this technique, there are not just dozens of them but hundreds of thousands of them.

There are several styles of contours in the lubok. Most often, the contour is very free, making it possible to show the object as a whole on different planes, from different points of view and in one image. This, we say, is the primitive vision of an object, seen from different aspects. The object in itself is not destroyed, it is simply developed in several places on the plane. But in other lubki there are more complex constructions. The object is shown from different points of view at the same time (as in our contemporaries Picasso or Braque). This distortion in the lubki and by our artists today is in fact the best proof of the destruction of time. For it makes it possible to show at once what is not visible except in moving around the object with the eye, which takes a certain time.

The lubok is painted onto trays, snuff boxes, glass, wood, ceramic tiles, tin (for example, still today signboards display an astonishing variety of techniques). Printed fabric, stencils, embossed leather, brass icon-cases, beads, glass beads, embroideries, stamped gingerbread, moulded pastry (an art that is still alive in our bakers and pastry-makers).

Wood sculpture, following its own course or continuing classical Russian forms.
Weaving, lace, etc.

All this belongs to the lubok in the broad sense of the term, and all this is great art. A wonderful example of the lubok painted on wood is the painted wardrobe in the Museum of the Stroganov Institute. Among other qualities, the painter was guided by popular prints and made what we call copies. In this regard, a few words on the copy. The copy does not exist in the sense that has been given to this word until now. What exists is a work of art to which a print, a painting, nature, etc., serve as a point of departure.

If we were convinced that the copy does not exist and has never existed, that it exists only in representation, but has never existed in reality and cannot exist, no one would continue to admire what is called an original work.

Those marvels of pictorial mastery and inspiration that we find in the 13th century icons of the Smolensk Mother of God and the Archangel Michael, shown in the Exhibition of Ancient Russian Art [at the Imperial Moscow Archeological Institute, early 1913], contain the elements of what is called a copy and the technique of the lubok.

Translated from the Russian by
Anthony Parton

[Larionov is quoting here and in the following excerpt from Chapter 3 in a book he and his brother Ivan had begun in 1905, History of Painting Outside Time (Istoria zhivopisi vne vremeni), but which was never published. Ed.]

Catalogue of the Exhibition of Original Icons and Lubki

Original Icons in the Collection of M. F. LARIONOV
1. Washing of the Feet. 2. Entry into Jerusalem. 3. Birth of the Virgin. 4. Crucifixion. 5. Adoration of the Magi. 6. Untitled. 7, 8. The Ascension. 9-12. Untitled. 13. The Saviour. 14. Adoration of the Magi. 15. Birth of the Virgin. 16. Death of the Virgin. 19. Untitled. 20. Abraham and the Three Angels. 21. Adoration of the Magi; on the reverse, image of the Virgin. 22, 23. Untitled. 24. Decoration. 25. Crucifixion. 26. The Apostle Andrew. 27. Untitled. 28. The Virgin. 29, 30. Untitled. 31. The Prophet Eljah. 32. The Virgin. 33. Untitled. 34. The Virgin. 35. Nicholas the Miracle-Worker. 36. Achip??? Icon. 37-39. Untitled. 40. Pilate Washing his Hands. 41. Christ Before Pilate. 42. Untitled. 43. Judgement of Pilate. 44. Christ Before the High Priest. 45-47. Untitled. 48. Abraham and the Three Angels. 49. The Apostle Peter. 50. The Apostle Paul. 51. The Apostle Jude. 52. Decoration. 53. Mark the Holy Evangelist. 54. Saint Andrew the First Named. 55. Untitled. 56. Baptism of Christ. 57-59. Image of the Virgin. 60. The Ascension. 61. Image of the Virgin. 62. The Virgin. 63. Untitled. 64. The Virgin. 65. The Virgin; on the reverse, the Crucifixion. 66. Image of the Virgin; the same on the reverse. 67. Death of the Virgin. 68.69. Untitled. 70. Baptism of Christ. 71. The Saviour Explains the Writings in the Temple. 72. Way of the Cross. 73. Entrance of the Three Saints Mary of God to the Temple. 74. Death of the Virgin. 75, 76. Untitled. 77. The Baptism. 78. Image of the Virgin. 79. Untitled. 80. The Saviour in Prison. 81. Representation of the Lord. 82, 83. Untitled. 84. Descent of the Holy Spirit. 85. Representation of the Virgin. 86. Representation of the Birth of the Virgin. 87. The All Powerful Lord. 88. Representation of the Virgin. 89. Untitled. 90. Descent from the Cross. 91. Golgotha. 92. Death of the Virgin. 93. The Saviour Before the High Priests. 94. Untitled. 95.Saint George the Victorious. 96. The Saviour Before the High Priests. 97. Apostle. 98. The Way of the Cross. 99. The Way of the Cross. 100. Descent from the Cross. 101. Christ Before Pilate. 102. Decoration. 103. The Soldiers Leading Christ. 104. Untitled. 105. Untitled. 106. Drawing. 107. Representation of the Virgin of Smolensk. 108. Translation. 109. Death of the Virgin. 110. Translation. 111, Drawing. 112. Representation of the Saviour. 113. Image of the Lord. 114. Drawing. 115. Christ Before Pilate. 116. Stencil and Drawing For it. 117. Idem. 118. Entry of the Three Saints Mother of God in the Temple. 119. Drawing. 120. The Baptism. 121. The Ascension of Elijah into Heaven. 122. The Saviour. 123. The Baptism. 124. Saint Eudoxie. 125. Entry into Jersalem. 126. The Ascension. 127. Representation of the Virgin. 128. Image of the Resurrection of the Lord. 129. Idem. Lubki in the Collection of M. F. LARIONOV 130. Untitled. 131. Saint John. 132. Peter the Great Crowning the Empress Catherine 1st. 133. Milord Franciscon. 134. Saint Mary Magdelene Going to the Emperor Tiberius. 135. Saint Andrew the First Named. 136. The Sinful Woman of Babylon. 137. Estaminet. 138. New Russian Alphabet. 139. Saint Mark. 140. Alexander II. 141. Maria Alexandrovna. 142. Image of the Virgin of Iverskaya. 143. Ermak Timofeevich, Coloniser of Siberia. 144. The Will of the Ottoman Door Halil Pacha. 145. The Liberators of Europe. 146. The Passions of the Lord. 147. Niniveh Saved. 148. The Exit of Sebastopol. 149. Untitled. 150. The Sins of Men Calling God's Wrath. 151. The Spiritual Pharmacy. 152. The Holy Monk Tite. 153. Untitled. 154. Ame, What Suffering Do You Undergo Here? 155. Of Eternal Glory and Joy. 156. Maxim the Greek. 157. He Who Takes Tips. 158. The Steadfast Rightness of the Christian. 159-161. And No One Lifted His Hand. 162. Heavy is the Yoke. 163. Censer. 164. Untitled. 165. Paramochka, Thomas and Jeremiah. 166. Constantinople. 167. Woman-Bird. 168. Untitled. 169. In Late Evening I went to the Woods to Bring the Cows Home. 170. Remember the Four Last Deaths, the Judgement and the Heavenly Rule. 171. Matthew the Evangelist. 172. Image of the Ascension of Our Saviour Jesus Christ. 173. Adam, Eve and Abel. 174. Ecclesiatical Calendar of the Twelve Months. 175. That Everyone Watches Over His Children Forever in Fear. 176. The Creation of Man. 177. Girls. 178. The Masters Shout the Clerks Move About. 179. The Cobbler and the General Farmer. 180. Ferocious Wolves Throw Themselves at the Peasants. 181. His Imperial Highness the Grand Prince Konstantin Nikolaivich. 182. Song. 183. Nicholas I. 184. Suvorov's Joke. 185. Four Images of the Very Saint Virgin. 186. The Life of Jesus Christ. 187. The General Bebutov. 188. Alexander Nevsky. 189. Story. 190. The Bird Alconost and the Woman-Bird. 191. Paris and Helen. 192. The Judgement of Paris. 193. Song of Soldiers. 194. Peter I. 195. An Evening of a Bad Autumn, romance. 196. New Tarot. 197. A Captive Presented to the Ataman of Algerian Brigands. 198. The Railways. 199. As in a Dark Forest. 200. Mary's Wood. 201. The Glorious Valliant Anika. 202. I Wanted to Go by Carriage. 203. The Second Prince Gorchakov. 204. The English Attack the Monastery of Solovetsky. 205. The Prince Orlov-Denissov. 206. The Last Judgement. 207. To the Fields! To the Fields! (song). 208. Mount Sinai. 209. The Woman Who Beats Her Husband. 210. Tale of the Seven Brothers. 211. The General Ermilov. 212. The Prince Orlov-Denissov. 213. The Peasant and Death. 214. Song of the Little Russian Girl. 215. An Evening of a Bad Autumn, romance. 216. How a Tailor Came to an Agreement with Four Devils. 217. His Imperial Highness and Heir to Tsar Grand Prince Alexander Alexandrovich. 218. The Husband Praises His Wife and the Wife Flirts with Friends. 219. Gipsy Song. 220. Don't Scold Me, Dear, song. 221. In Mary's Wood. 222. The Labouring Bear. 223. Ferocious Wolves Throwing Themselves at Passersby. 224. Cosak Fair. 225. In the Forest of Silk Grasses, song. 226. The Inhabitants of Nijni-Novgorod Vow Loyalty to Russia. 227. The Emperor Nicholas I. 228. It Happened in Our Street. 229. In a Little Village Lived Vanka. 230. Hardy Fighters. 231. To the Target! To the Target! 232. The Emperor Peter I. 233. Don't Wake the Young Girl, song. 234. Peace Banner, Nude Shirt. 235. Richard's Dream. 236. How a Coach Carried the Devil. 237. A Lesson For Husbands. 238. Alconoste. 239. In What Consist Several Illnesses. 240. Crucifixion. 241. The Surrender of Chamil. 242. Ascension. 243. A Lession for Husbands. 244. Song About Molasses and Gingerbread. 245. The Exit of Sebastopol. 246. The Taking of Kars. 247. Monument of Minin and Pojarsky. 248. The General Bebutov. 249. How God Ordered to Live in One Way and Not Another. 250. The Father Gave Me. 251. Outrageous Story. 252. Big Nose and Big Cold. 253. It Speeds, the Swift Troika. 254. The Jews. 255. The General Bibikov. 256. Vova Son of the King. 257. Return to the Homeland. 258. The Degrees of Human Life. 259. The Revellers. 260. One Evening a Bad Auturmn. 261. You, Nastassia, You, Nastassia. 262. Debauched Carnival. 263. Twenty Torments. 264. The Mother of God. 265. Friends and Money. 266. Ermak. 267. Prayer to Saint Barbe. 268. Resurrection of Christ. 269. On the Arrival of the Antichrist. 270. The Tsarevich Ivan. 271. Saint Serge. 272. The Count Wittgenstein. 273. Little Babel. 274. Guess, My Dear. 275. Reunion of Fathers. 276. The Emperor Alexander II. 277. Crucifixion. 278. The Icon of the Mother of God of the Laura of Petchersk in Kiev. 279. The Labouring Bear. 280. Saint Nicholas. 281. Image of the Mother of God - Softening of the Bad Hearts. 282. Word of Saint Jean of the Golden Mouth. 283. On the Demon Who Acted There Where Was Rape. 284. The Difference of Churches. 285. The Last Judgement. 286. The Young Virgin Wild Beast. 287. Dentist. 288, 289. Target of Soldiers. 290. Cecil. 291. Turkish Narcissus. 292. Grenada of Spain. 293. Swiss Languish. 294-300. Untitled.
Works From the Collection of Popular Art of N. V. BOGOIAVLENSKY: 301-420.
Persian Lubki from the Collection of A. I. PRIBYLOVSKY: 421-427.
Chinese Lubki from the Collection of M. F. LARIONOV: 428-466.
Work from the Collection of N. M. BOTCHAROV: 467.
Chinese Lubki from the Collection of N. D. VINOGRADOV: 468-519.
Japanese Woodcuts from the Collection of M. F. LARIONOV: 520-596.
Tatar Lubki from the Collection of M. F. LARIONOV: 597-614.
French Lubki from the Collection of M. F. LARIONOV: 615-624.
Japanese Lubki for China (from the Collection of M. F. LARIONOV): 625-633.

Natalia Goncharova, The Hindu and Persian Lubok

It has always been that what is best in Western Europe has its origin, directly or indirectly, in the East. This was the case for religion (the Bible and the Apostles) and for art (ancient Greece and Byzantium).
And yet a difference remains. A difference deeply rooted in the very being of the peoples of the West and the East. In the former it is in the great early civilisations, in the latter it is in the great culture, the depths of soul and the closeness to nature.

In the great love of those from the East - and among them the Slaves - for synthesis, in their understanding of the world that surrounds them, in the decorative manner in which they render it, whether it be in poetry (The Thousand and One Nights), in Persian painting or the Indian miniature, in Chinese, Indian, Russian, Persian, etc. lubki, in sculptures like the stone statues of the Russians or Hindu sculptures, all these works, including Japanese prints, do not copy nature, do not improve it, but recreate it. The result of this re-creation is a stupefying monumentality and great life in the most characteristic details.

The freedom, the expressivity of the composition, the ornamental character, and the beauty of the colour are the qualities that belong fully to Persian and Indian lubki. We find the same great pictorial beauty in Persian carpets, ceramic tiles (especially those of the 12th century), miniatures, and even after the Persian renaissance (16th century) of the painters of Behzadzé, Djakhan, Giza, Bikhari and Mania, the latter situated between Persia, China and India.

Nearly all the cultures of Eastern peoples are very ancient. Their traditions are much more ancient than Europe's ancient world. And this culture, this tradition freely adapted, was inevitably bound to appear in Persian and Indian art generally, especially in the lubok, portraying the life of the people who created it, its tastes and its interests.

No. 4
March-April, 1914
Artistic Salon, Bolshaya Dmitrovka, Moscow

Brief History of No. 4

Before their departure for Paris, Larionov and his group had a final exhibition in Moscow. The Exhibition of Paintings No. 4: Futurists, Rayists, Primitives opened at the Artistic Salon on Bolshaya Dmitrovka in March 1914 and closed in April. Plans for the exhibition had undergone considerable changes since first being mooted as a neo-primitive exhibition in April 1913, and then in October 1913 as an exhibition in which Italian Futurist and French Orphist artists were to participate. However, none of these “like minded” westerners appeared and the Exhibition No. 4 feature only several of the Target group from the year before: Bogomazov, Goncharova, Le Dantiu, Levkievsky, Pavlyuchenkko. Romanovich, Shevchenko, and Kiril Zdanevich. Larionov also seems to have lost the support of several important figures such as Chagall and Malevich, as well as a number of less well-known but but faithful artists who had exhibited at both the Donkey’s Tail and the Target.

Larionov’s notoriety, however, ensured that there was no shortage of new contributors to the Exhibition of Paintings No. 4.Tthese included Sergei Baidin, Vasily chekrygin, Ivan Firsov, Galina Labunskaya, Nikolai Loptin, Lef Ostofiev, Sergei Podgaevsky, Vera Shekhtel, and two unexpected and important contributors, Alexandra Exter and the Hylaean poet Kamensky who showed some of his “ferro-concrete” poems. Larionov’s exhibts here included Sea Beach and Woman which was reproduced in the catalogue with the sub-title “pneumo-rayism”, Boulevard Venus, and Glass. Larionov also showed a series of works painted in late 1913 and early 1914 based on the idea of structure, among which were Sunny Day (Pneumo-Rayist Colourful Structure), the unidentifiable Sea Beach (Colourful Structure), and three works with the title, Structural Construction.

Sunny Day reveals Larionov at his peak as a non-objective artist [Musée national d’Art moderne, Paris]. The handling of materials, the dynamism of the the rays, and sheer brilliance of colour in these works have a potent expressive force. The magazine Ogonek illustrated the painting as the most exciting work of the whole exhibition and declared,
“Everything in the painting emanates like a vortex of bright sun spots and strokes. There are no names in the human language for the separate details of this masterpiece and only n the centre, underdaring strokes, the fatal word Ka gloomily predominates.”

In these non-objective paintings, Larionov used novel techniques. Sunny Day, for example, relies on a textured and painted surface made from papier maché while the use of partial words such as “Ka”, a reference either to Kamensky or to the “Ka” of Khlebnikov’s famous poem, pre-dates Malevich’s use of the word in his Aviator (Russian Museum, St. Petersburg). These “colourful structures” and “structural constructions” are similar in style to Rayist Composition: Domination of Red, where there appears to be no reference to the external world whatever. Here there is a conflict not only between the rapidly shifting ray-lines and planes but also between the colours which fight for dominance one over the other.

The concept of the “domination of colour” marked a new direction in Larionov’s rayist theory. As he stated shortly afterwards in his Parisian manifesto, “Le Rayonnisme Pictural” (1914), the various colours employed by the Rayist painter express different sensations according to their density on the canvas. By varying the density of the pigment, Larionov found himself able to “orchestrate” his colours and alter the effects or sensations that each aroused. In Rayist Composition: Domination of Red, the dominant sensations are those evoked by the vibrant red rays, although the emotions evoked by the other prismatic colours play a role, creating a colour symphony.

These paintings represent the conclusion of Larionov’s Rayist development and the introduction of entirely new possibilities for a younger generation who, after the revolution, based their new aesthetics of Constructivism upon Larionov’s pioneering research. The peculiar titles that Larionov assigned to his non-objective paintings of 1913-1914 such as “colourful structure” (krasochnaya struktura) and “structural construction” (strukturnoe postroenie) indicate a new emphasis, that of constructing or “building up” a painting through the process of structuring colour and line. After Larionov had left Russia in 1915, the concept was taken up and developed by the constructivists and it is interesting to note that when Medunetsky and the two Stenberg brothers exhibited as Constructivists (konstruktivisty) in Moscow in January 1921, they exhibited among other works, “colour-constructions”.

Anthony Parton, Mikhail Larionov and the Russian Avant-Garde. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993, 74-76.

Shortly after the departure of Marinetti, the Italian Futurist, in February 1914, Goncharova and Larionov organised their fourth group exhibition in as many years. Appropriately entitled, The No. 4 Exhibition (Vystavka kartin No. 4), it opened in March 1914 and promoted the idea of artistic liberty and diversity. The core of the group comprised those artists who had exhibited at The Target in 1913, though Malevich and Bart had now left. To make up for their absence, artists such as Alexandra Exter were invited to exhibit with the group, as was the poet Vasily Kamensky who showed several of his “ferro-concrete” poems “stretched out along the wall as if they were paintings”. In addition, the group provided an open exhibition venue for young artists and students such as Vera Shekhtel and Vasily Chekrygin.
At this exhibition Goncharova showed several Rayist and Cubo-Futurist works from the spring and summer of 1913 including Rayist Landscape, Colour Construction Based upon Structure, and Woman in a Hat. She also showed her more recent work, those paintings which had not featured in her solo exhibition and which may, therefore, be dated to the autumn and winter of 1913. These included the abstract, Portrait of M. F. Larionov, three Rayist paintings of Orchids, and Rayist Fountain. In addition, Goncharova showed a range of works inspired by Italian Futurism such as Railway Station, Dynamo Machine, and Electric Lamp, and Electric Ornament which were both part of a series on electricity. The most recent works, probably dating from early 1914, included completely non-objective paintings such as Void, which is particularly interesting as a philosophical puzzle painting in which the artist grappled with the question of how to represent pure. space.
The conservative press attacked the No. 4 Exhibition as “an exhibition of ridiculous contours and enigmatic forms, an exhibition of electrical sentiments and pneumatic structures”, but more sensitive critics explained that the works conveyed the feeling of a subject through the formal means at the artists’ disposal. In addition, a more discriminating audience than usual attended the preview: “No laughter was heard in front of the paintings. The viewer was thoughtful and sought an explanation”. Indeed, what is interesting about this exhibition is that for the first time even the hostile critics wrote of Goncharova’s innate talent, though Golos Moskvy / Moscow Voice, considered that she had ruined it in the pursuit of absurd theories and Ivanovsky wrote of his “burning anger” at the way in which Goncharova had abused and squandered her talent....
In the years leading up to the first World War Goncharova stood at the pinnacle of her career as a painter. The conservative press castigated her as the enfant terrible of the avant-garde, yet against the odds she had finally achieved a wide measure of critical acclaim in what was predominantly a male establishment. Benois, Tugendkhold and Rostislavov were powerful critics who provided a serious account of her work and explained it to a public who were scaptical at first, but by 1914 saw much to praise in her paintings. In addition, Goncharova had worked across disciplines, moving away from the easel to explore the potential of graphic art, of film, and of what we might call today performance art. Here was an artist who was pushing at the boundaries of modernism, charting new territory, proposing new ideas and exploring new sites for artistic practice. Goncharova was an artist who was ahead of her time and in whose aesthetic ideology we can glimpse the seeds of the postmodern. As Rostislavov shrewdly noted, Goncharova possessed nothing short of “a glittering talent”.

Anthony Parton, Goncharova. Tha Art and Design of Natalia Goncharova, Suffolk: Antique Collectors’ Club, 2010, 98-101.

Sergei Baidin, Bogomazov, Vasily Chekrygin, Alexandra Exter, Ivan Firsov, Goncharova,
Kamensky, Galina Labunskaya, Larionov, Le Dantiu, Levkievsky, Nikolai Loptin,
Lef Ostofiev, Sergei Podgaevsky, Pavlyuchenkko. Romanovich,
Vera Shekhtel, Shevchenko, Kiril Zdanevich. •



Red Square


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